By Felicia Long
I have a huge fear of heights, standing on a chair tests my limits, which means no looking over balconies for this girl. 4 years ago I went to MSC Gravenhurst and opted to do the Duathlon as jumping off the steamboat was something I did not want to do. I have heard great reports about this race and decided I really wanted to do it – which ultimately would mean jumping off the boat. I signed up a few months ago for the sprint and proceeded with my training, trying not to think about the “jump” part of the race. In theory it sounds wonderful, heading out on a steamboat full of triathletes, jumping into the water and racing…
I swim with Toronto Triathlon Club and I had told Coach Miranda Tomenson about my fears. 3 days before the event she suggested I practice jumping off the swim block into the pool (about 2 feet high). I stood on the block and looked down and to me it was a long way down..After an eternity (as it seemed to me) I jumped and survivedJ. I did a couple more and felt ready for the big day.
We got to Gravenhurst on Sunday morning and went to look at the boats. I could now see that the jump would be from a height of 5 feet – this was not in my plan. I got into my wetsuit and say quietly on the boat, I didn’t look over the edge and tried to remain calm. Then the announcement came for the athletes to jump…I let all the others in my wave jump off without a care in the world and I stood there looking down at the water below. Everyone seemed happy and no one got hurt jumping (crazy mind thinking)… I let the seconds pass deciding what to do…all that training would be of no use if I couldn’t even get into the water – time to make a decision, I jumped, seemed to take a long time but in reality probably less than a second. I survived. : )
The rest of the race was a blur, I was on a high from my big leap of faith and I smiled all the way to the end of the race. I have a mantra to try and challenge myself in whatever form that takes and this was one of those challenges I had to overcome to take on other challenges. I had such I good time I plan to be back to jump off the boat again next year.
I was very excited to be an event ambassador for the Kingston Triathlon, which sold out all its races for yet another year. I’ve visited Kingston for a kayak race several times and as a drive stopover on the way further eastward, but it would be my first time doing their triathlon. The historic City of Kingston offers a delightful array of small shops and waterfront parkettes, and brought a warm welcome to the athletes participating that day.
After spending a delightful night camped at Kingston Mills lock, I picked up a breakfast at Tim Hortons, drove downtown and parked three minutes away from Confederation Park. The beauty of smaller cities is the ample free street parking – try doing that in Toronto! I brought a volunteer who needed to hand out timing chips, so I had to drop by two hours before race start. Arriving early, while a good practice, also has the inadvertent effect of making me nervous. I spent a bit more time getting things prepared in the car before bringing everything over. The racks weren’t numbered so I picked a spot that was easy to mark from the swim exit and laid out my gear. Time inexplicably sped up, and before I knew it the pre-race announcements were on while I was trying to get my wetsuit on. Not much time for a warm-up swim!
The Swim: 2000m
I waded out into the warm waters for the in-water start, and then my wave was off! After 250m we made a sharp right turn and out for 750m. That buoy seemed so far away! I was having some difficulty with my wetsuit as it was uncomfortably tight around my neck. I had to undo the zipper a bit to breathe a bit better. After rounding the buoy, there were headwinds on the return portion. The chop of the water forced me to turn my head more skyward which wasn’t as hydrodynamic and certainly more awkward. Stripping out of the wetsuit to reveal my trisuit, the bike portion was next.
The Bike: 56.2km
This is the first time I’ve been in a race where there was an untimed neutral zone. This was because of construction and traffic on the roads leading to the Causeway Bridge. This allowed everyone a precious opportunity to relax, take in hydration and food, and mentally prep for the course ahead. The route had a few rolling hills and traffic was never an issue with key intersections protected by police officers. After the turnaround, it was the same route back, save for a short jog portion. That road led up quite a steep hill, though I was glad that we turned left just before that climb and joined back to the main road instead! Once again we went through the neutral zone, racked the bike and changed over to the run portion.
The Run: 15km
The run westward was lined with cheering spectators and athletes on the return back to the finish. The view along the Waterfront Pathway was quite scenic, and the weather was quite hot. I was secretly hoping that the route would detour into the lake for a refreshing dunk. Along the route the aid stations were manned by enthusiastic volunteers who handed out hydration and wet towels to cool off with. We continued past the infamous Kingston Penitentiary, marina, and around the hospital. The route went into Lake Ontario Park, where there was a dog obstacle course set up with dogs running everywhere. On the return portion, I saw an Ornge helicopter parked on the helipad. I’ve never seen one up so close before. At the finish I was greeted with more cheering spectators. A volunteer put a medal around my neck and handed me a snazzy black and yellow cap. Time for pizza!! I have to say that this race had a lot of crowd energy and I would definitely recommend it to new and seasoned triathletes alike.
By Michael Telpner
The first race I ever participated in was the MSC Toronto Island Triathlon. I think I gave high fives to every volunteer and race official I passed. Since that first race almost 10 years ago, I keep it on my calendar every year.
It’s my favourite race because for a few reasons; it is extremely spectator friendly, I can ride down to the ferries in 20 min and it has one of the nicest swims of all races. The transition zone is on the site of the long-forgotten baseball diamond where Babe Ruth hit one of his first home runs…Steve Fleck (the voice of Triathlon) tells the story before each race.
Triathlon is an interesting sport. For a long time, there was a belief that you graduated through triathlon distances. Participants started with the try-a-tri, moved to the sprints, added Olympic, then moved onto long course and ultra-long distances (think Ironman). With young kids, I was always happy participating in short course races. If I missed one because of a family activity (or, sadly injury) I could race a week or two later.
So what has changed in the triathlon community? More participants are selecting to stick with short course races and trying more creative alternatives. Next year’s Olympics are adding triathlon relay (300M swim, 7K bike, 2K run). Last year, Simon Whitfield (Canada’s most decorated Olympic Triathlete) participated in a swim/run/swim event. A friend mentioned he is participating in a swim, bike, run, swim, bike, run event (I have to assume it’s not a wetsuit event). Triathlon organizers are making great headways; adding lots of variety to make our sport more exciting for both athletes and spectators.
This year’s MSC Toronto Island Triathlon had to transition to a swim/run event due to the high water levels on the Island. Coming back from injury, I was really looking forward to racing my first triathlon in two years. The reasons I always come back to the Island haven’t changed and given we go from the swim to the run, it is even more spectator-friendly than ever before. What I always tell someone on their first race – the first time you race will be a Personal Best. I am excited to try something different, look forward to a new PB for a swim/run event and hope to see you all on the Island August 18th.
It’s time I share some reflection pieces about #MSCWelland and #MSCGravenhurst race experiences as I head into #MSCKTown and more. Life has been busy juggling our family day, school year completion, kids’ activities ending, volunteering, family holidays, my career in the classroom (June is an absolute blur) and then triathlon training on top. Reflections as life gets busier:
- Have your seasonal plan but be flexible. Be open to training inside when you want to go out. Be open to a change of training focus for the day; move one day to another and vice versa. Be open to planning your training within your 24-hour day and not as an entire separate part. I am lucky that my husband and kids are so supportive of me biking to & from work instead of driving or running to my son’s baseball games instead of driving with them; it takes a bit more time but then I can be 100% in the moment when we are all home at dinner time.
- Keep a paper calendar. We are all so electronically connected but you can’t see the entire overview. I also use colour-coding for training sessions (I know, the teacher in me) which helps see the picture easily for heavy/light sport-specific training improvements weekly and monthly. I also like going back to previous years when in doubt.
- Work on your weakness! Do I need to say more? We all know this but really, make action of it. Talk to other athletes about their great training and offer up yours. When it really comes down to the training, you need to be tough. Improving your weakness will take time and probably patience. You won’t like it; I didn’t! However, now I have developed into a triathlete and not a “strong swimmer that just didn’t know what to do after her career was completed” at 23 years of age. Gravenhurst is a great example where the hills were steep, and I drew upon my training sessions, mental memory, and “hunting” anyone in front of me to run a PB. I can now draw upon that experience to dig deep in the next race and know I can do it and not “blow up”.
- There are no limits. I started my triathlon career in my 20’s which seems late in today’s athletes. Maybe it’s because age has never set limits for me that I continue to see any athlete on the course as a competitor that will help me achieve my goals and I too, might do the same for them.
- Superstitions are acceptable! I do have many tasks and routines I do every race week. I have “lucky” pre-race morning gear that dates back decades. I can’t believe it still lives another season. I have “lucky” routines 30 minutes before I head out to race with my family. I have “lucky” transition set up. It all makes a difference in your day. Make the time and teach those who support you that it’s the final step to race preparation. They will probably understand better if you do.
Let’s get the race on for #MSCKTown! Sweet dreams for calm water, no rain and some clouds for the run. It’s a beautiful course that has great fans for the entire downtown. I can’t wait to be there in a week!
We’ve got some new colour options this year for our races. Check them out. Sign up for the races and #racelocal
We had and unprecedented amount of applicants to the 2016 Recharge With Milk Ambassador Team, as a result, this year’s team will be our biggest and best ever.
More details about the team and it’s members will be released soon but here is some social media buzz from a few members of the team as they were informed about their selection:
Registration is now open for the Ontario Women’s Triathlon on Saturday September 10, 2016 at Georgina (Lake Simcoe), Ontario.
There are a variety of events to participate in, and all at reasonable prices when compared to other similar races today.
Women’s Duathlon (2.5km Run – 15km Bike – 2.5km Run)
Women’s Duathlon Relay (2.5km Run – 15km Bike – 2.5km Run)
Women’s Triathlon (500m Swim – 15km Bike – 4km Run)
Women’s Swim Bike (500m Swim – 15km Bike)
Women’s Triathlon Relay (500m Swim – 15km Bike – 4km Run)